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19 December 2016

Marketers, let’s stop screwing up

This year, I attended the STIMA congress for a day and if you were to ask me for one statement that stayed with me, it would be this: “let’s stop screwing up”. Today’s competitive advantage does not lie in a company’s products or services, brand, values or use of technology, but in its customer experience. According to keynote speaker John Watton, Director Digital Marketing EMEA at Adobe, we are arriving at the experience business wave.

It doesn’t matter how good your product is, if your customer experience and process is poor – John Watton

Customer Experience Business Wave

Of course, new technologies were everywhere at the congress: I had a VR experience in the middle of the congress hall and a Nao robot posed for a selfie with my colleague Charlotte. Some marketers say that these technologies, such as VR, AR, AI and wearables, actually dehumanize the experiences that we have with brands. For example: talking to a chatbot that is merely trying to understand you without being able to truly grasp empathy, instead of a real human customer services employee. But doesn’t this simply mean that we as marketers are screwing up?

According to keynote speaker Polle De Maagt, with technology advancing, it seems as though we are only scaling stupidity. In reality, we are creating a Frankenstein monster: fake news messages on social media that influenced the US elections, remarketing banners all over a website page for products that you just bought, marketing automation flows that blast out the same marketing message to people who take a certain action on a website in an attempt to send relevant messages, etc.

The best minds of my generation are thinking about how to make people click ads. That sucks. – Jeffrey Hammerbacher

Can we turn things around and stop screwing up? Polle believes so, and I couldn’t agree more. What if, instead of developing a chatbot that is able to reply to customers’ questions without the intervention of a human, we created an AI bot that proactively provided your customers with what they need and exactly when they need it? Take a look at KLM for example, who notifies its customers when the check-in opens by sending them their boarding pass via Facebook Messenger. We should be using technology more to solve real customer issues and to be relevant, instead of pretending to understand our customers. What are we waiting for?

KLM Facebook Messenger flight information
Image source: KLM